Open Source is all about contributing one’s skill, knowledge & even money if one can. If you ever thought to contribute to open source but never started it due to lack of idea, then reading this piece of article will help you a long way. As usual with Open Source, possibilities are endless but here I will list some which I feel will suit most of you.
# Open Source projects require programmers & bug patchers. If you have knowledge about any coding language then you can participate in the coding team of a distro or an application. Bug patchers can create bug fixes as & when any bugs are reported in an application by a user.
# If coding is not your cup of tea, you can try your hand at writing. Most of the projects require a user friendly set of instructions so that users can refer it in case of difficulties. You can write how-to’s, general documentations etc as directed by your project leader. You can even help in translating the documentation if you know other languages.
# If you have a designer’s perspective then you can send your art-work to be used in the form of Wallpapers, Screensavers, Icons etc. Besides submitting your art-work to the official distro graphic department you can even help by posting it on sites like www.kde-look.org or www.gnome-look.org .
# Most distro have an option for package maintainers. Package maintainers are those folks who compile the package from source code & package it to a binary which can be installed easily by less experienced users. e.g. A Ubuntu package maintainer will compile packages in .deb format while a Fedora package maintainer will do it in .rpm. As a package maintainer you will also need to keep updating the specific package as and when they get updated.
# If you own none of the above skills then you can perhaps share your knowledge regarding troubleshooting problems on online linux forums. Each distro has its official forum. Registering takes hardly a minute & you can then go & post to your heart’s content. Post informative threads & that’s enough to help the overall community.
# In addition to forums you can even promote Open Source & spread it by means of your personal blog or on your website. You’re free to post articles, reviews, bugs on your blog which can be read all over the world including the official distro/package maintainers. If you point out any bugs in software/distro on your blog, there exist a possibility it can be read & acted upon by the distro/package specific team. Even if you share basic knowledge regarding Linux & Open Source it can be of tremendous help to people who are fresh to the Linux world. If you are a veteran in the Open Source field then you should seriously begin a website.
# If you don’t have time or competency but still want to contribute to Open Source then too you can help. You can donate some of your money to open source. Most of Open Source projects require funds in order to continue their development. In addition to donating money, you can even donate some server space, blank medias(CD/DVD) to the needy Open Source projects.
# If you feel you can do none of the above don’t get disheartened. You can always promote open source in the form of mouth publicity, speaking at seminars, media etc. Though you might feel this to be insignificant but it’s not that insignificant either.
Whichever way you decide to go, remember to read the project guidelines before submitting your work lest you have to face the rejection stamp. Go ahead, do your bit in making the Open Source World grow bigger & better. Start early!